Tag Archives: won

Review of The Slave, by Anand Dilvar

I won a copy of The Slave, by Anand Dilvar, through Goodreads.

Description:
Trapped in a vegetative state, following a terrible accident that has paralyzed his whole body, the narrator is unable to communicate with those around him. Cut off from family and friends so begins an inner conversation with his spiritual guide, a conversation which takes him on a journey of self-realization, bringing him eventually to a new state of consciousness, and an understanding of his deepest self.

Written with an engaging simplicity, this is a truly profound book which can change your life. In fact to use the authors own words, it is designed to shake, shudder and wake us up. It is a book that has nothing to do with success, social recognition, with the accumulation of goods; but everything to do with joy, love and peace.

Review:
Sooooo, I read The Slave and I rolled my eyes so hard I think I saw the back of my skull. Why do people keep publishing books telling others to accept reality and take responsibility for their own actions and emotions, while pretending this is some new ground-breaking idea? I’m pretty sure Lao Tzu said it in the 6th century (BCE). And it probably wasn’t even a new idea when he decided to write it down!

The writing is stiff and there are several inconsistencies. For example, the unnamed protagonist was a John Doe at the hospital. But he was injured in a car accident at a party with people he knew. Surely someone could ID him to the paramedics. And his spirit guide was supposed to be part of himself and not know anything he didn’t. But he could prompt enlightenment and teach lessons John Doe didn’t know.

It was also vague on details. A hospital staff said the character was in “some sort of rigamortis.” A doctor claimed his “heart stopped,” instead of saying cardiac arrest or asystole. The girlfriend said she moved in with her aunt who lived “quite far from here,” etc.

All in all, I found the whole thing sappy and unoriginal. It’s been done better before.

Review of Consciousness Archaeology, by Maximus Freeman

I won a copy of Consciousness Archaeology, by Maximus Freeman, through Goodreads.

Description from Goodreads:
Consciousness Archaeology vividly chronicles Freeman’s relentless, twenty-year exploration of the ebbs and flows of life from the dark night of the Soul to the radiant light of Presence. His use of intimate, personal stories provides a raw, unfiltered view of human nature in its most vulnerable state. Freeman shares his unique perspective on many ancient truths and introduces several insightful theories of his own while injecting just a hint of humor. Most importantly though, he provides simple, practical exercises which allow the reader to experience profound, life-long benefits. Are you ready to dig deep?

Review:
Sooooooo……..NO.

Self-help books are a difficult group to review, as what works for one person might not for another and visa-versa. This book is no different in that regard. But I’m willing to nix it for a few important (to me) reasons.

First, how exactly can a man write a book that is supposed to be about acceptance and letting go of the self, but includes so very many references to Me, Myself and I? This is not actually about about how you or I can excavate our consciousness. It is instead a memoir of how Maximus Freeman explored and discovered his. Not the same thing!

He speaks about how in the past he was a self-centered, control-freak. But all we have is his own word that this has changed. And frankly, finding a man (a white man, at that) willing to tell you all about how he has the answers you don’t isn’t rare or eye opening. Nor does it convince me that he’s suddenly the easy going, modest guy he espouses.

Second, he identifies the root of all insecurities by page 4 (which is really page two, as the first is a title page and the second a centered quote). Then he finds the reason we all ‘act the way we act’ and how to move away from it by page six, before jumping into his spiel. Excuse me, but those are huge topics that deserve a lot more attention than 4 pages. What’s more, as a reader I expect more than just being told. I want some supporting information.

Third, he includes references to the spirit, light and dark, karma, etc. But all of these are separated from their original context. I’ve said this in the past, in similar author centered self-help books, but you can’t just appropriate ideas piecemeal and then present them as original, with no understanding or reference to their culture of origin.

Lastly, There is almost no new information or recommendations here. Freeman is basically just taking other authors’ practices and recommending them (because they work for him). There is no expiration of why they work or even, importantly, how to make them work. My advice? Look at the bibliography, go find the source material and read it. You don’t need to get it filtered through some man who thinks the pinnacle of vulnerability is admitting he was bullied in middle-school for being short.

I have no doubt Freeman believes himself evolved and intends this book to truly help people. But to me, it reads like one man’s ego trip. Even watch a JP Sears video? Yeah, this is they type he’s making fun of.

Review of Kill Me Now, by Timmy Reed

I won a copy of Timmy Reed‘s Kill Me Now though Goodreads.

Goodreads:
Miles Lover is an imaginative but insecure adolescent skateboarder with an unfortunate nickname, about to face his first semester of high school in the fall. In Kill Me Now, Miles exists in a liminal space―between junior high and high school, and between three houses: his mother’s, his father’s, and the now vacant house his family used to call home in a leafy, green neighborhood of north Baltimore. Miles struggles against his parents, his younger identical twin sisters, his probation officer, his old friends, his summer reading list, and his personal essay assignment (having to keep a journal). More than anything, though, he wrestles with himself and the fears that come with growing up.

It’s not until Miles begins a mutually beneficial friendship with a new elderly neighbor―whom his sisters spy on and suspect of murder―that he begins to find some understanding of lives different than his own, of the plain acceptance of true friends, and, maybe, just a little of himself in time to start a whole new year. When you’re green, you grow, he learns. But when you’re ripe, you rot.

Review:
Being a 14-year-old boy must suck. Being a 14-year-old girl had it’s challenges, being 14 in general does, but being a 14-year-old boy sounds like the pits. Such were my thoughts while reading Kill Me Now.

I liked this more than I expected. It reminded me A LOT of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Though TPoBaWF has a certain gentleness that this lacks, there are a lot of similarities. Miles Lover isn’t quite as cerebral as Charlie Scorsoni, but he engages in  the same kind of stream of consciousness writing to an unknown reader. He is the same kind of socially awkward that leaves you wondering if he’s on the spectrum somewhere. And Kill Me Now puts a 14-year-old, not a child/not an adult into the same situations that people (and therefore their media) pretends they don’t engage in—drugs, alcohol, sex, casual cruelty, etc. And like The Perks of Being a Wallflower this challenging of the national script is what I appreciated most about the book. Because I have never known youths to be as pure as people like to insist they are.

I was uncomfortable with the casual racism, repeated use of Retard as a nickname, and the overt sexualization of prepubescent girls. (This one bothered me a lot more than the 14-year-old giving Miles a BJ or the rumors that his 13-year-old sisters had done the same to someone else.) I understand Reed probably included these for a reason. But I don’t know what it was. To showcase the poor decision-making of Miles and his friends, teens in general, maybe?

All in all, I think if you liked Chbosky’s wallflower, you’ll like this grittier version of the same idea. But if you didn’t like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I feel confident saying you won’t like Kill Me Now either.